God Tests Faith
Psalms 11:4-5 (ESV) “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. 5 The Lord tests the righteous…”
Job 7:17-18 (ESV) “What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him, 18 visit him every morning and test him every moment?”
Job 23:10 (ESV) “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”
James 1:2-3 (ESV) “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
James 1:12 (ESV) “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV) “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
The life of faith in Jesus Christ is a life of testing.
Whether by the direct hand of God or by the providential hand of God directing other means, God tests us.
God does not test us to crush us. Rather God tests us to put on display for us and the watching world the genuineness and pricelessness of our faith that God has graciously given to us.
These tests show that God’s gifts are not cheap toys that break at the first bump.
Rather, these tests show God to be Good, Mighty, Sustainer, Father and Provider.
God does this for us and our increasing affection for him and for the world that is watching us and him at work in us.
So, don’t hate days of tests.
Rather, embrace them as a chance to display God to be worthy and you to be his child.
What do we see in our text today?
- God tests Abraham. Genesis 22:1-10
Verse 5, “…I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.”
Hebrews 11:17-19 (ESV) By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
- Regardless of Abraham’s growing faithful logic, the sacrifice was never intended to be Isaac.
Jeremiah 19:5 (ESV) and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind—
The sacrifice is Abraham’s own will and wisdom. Will Abraham just trust and obey?
Abraham knows God’s word and it informs how he interprets what God is doing.
Abraham believes both he and Isaac will return together, he just does not know how.
Abraham’s discipleship has culminated in this moment.
Abraham knows he has to obey, contrary to every ounce of his fallen logic, and God will make sure the boy is just fine.
Abraham is having to “unlearn” all of his past practices and learn how to live by faith.
- God takes Abraham as far as he needed to take him and not one inch farther. Genesis 22:10-11
- God had the joy of experiencing what he already “understood” as Abraham worshiped through his faith-filled trust in God. Genesis 22:12
- The word “yada” here means to know by experience. (The Hebrew captures in the wording implicitly what we have to supply in English “seeing you have”.)
The point of the structure is to communicate that this was an experiential joy for God to experience Abraham’s trust.
God has witnessed Abraham’s faith beyond the mere knowledge of it that he already had.
- God is provider. Genesis 22:13-14
- God is YHWH Yireh…God who sees.
Provide is from a Latin root “providere”, which means “to see” or “attend to”.
We translate YHWH Yireh as “God will ‘provide’” because for God to see the need of his people IS for him to supply it or attend to it.
There is no such thing as God seeing and doing nothing. He sees. He does.
- God’s knowing is his ordaining for our good and his glory.
- There is nothing he either does for our good or will turn the evil around for our good in time. Genesis 50:20
This is why one of the basic Christian teachings on the nature of God is his “omnipotence”…all-powerfulness.
- Through passing the test of obedience, Abraham will experience the power of God in keeping his promise to make him a great nation. Genesis 22:15-19
- God has so wired his world that when his people obey him, he releases untold graces on behalf of his people.
Matthew 7:24-25 (ESV) Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
What do we do with our text?
- Obey what you know even if it does not make sense.
Abraham has taken all the necessary items for sacrifice believing that God will work it out. He simply obeyed what he knew to obey at the moment.
Momentary, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly obedience is how you find yourself exactly where God wants you in 50 years.
- Push through the uncomfortable and hard obedience believing God will do good.
Can you imagine Abraham tying up Isaac? That was likely not a peaceful father and son moment. It was likely a struggle.
If Abraham does not push through the hard obedience, he would never have witnessed GOD supplying what Abraham never could have supplied.
We may not get the supernatural moments if we don’t step out into the places that require the supernatural.
- God tests his people to build increasing quality in our faith.
James 1:2-4 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
- We have to be willing to surrender our best and believe God will provide.
- God delights in our faith-filled responses of obedience.
It was an experiential joy for God to see Abraham beginning to “get it”. Like any good father, they delight in watching their children “get it”.
This is why the bible teaches us that in Christ we have received the Spirit of sonship by which we call out to God as “Abba…Father.”
- God has already seen our need in his work and made supply for it. We pray and wait with faith. This truth provides relief from fretting and worry.
- Obedience releases the realization of God’s provision.
This is not some “prosperity” theology. This is biblical obedience and supply for God’s ends.
- God has never and will never fail to do me good in spite of evil people. Evil done against me will never prevent God from using it for my good and his glory.
- We are not owners or providers. We are managers and beloved beneficiaries.
So, we need to sabbath up.
God’s call on us is to manage and receive, and that takes pressure off.
This is not an excuse to be lazy. This is license to work without the pressure of having to “make” anything beyond your control happen.
This is license to not be God and enjoy being God’s child.
- As God delights in our obedience, let’s delight in God’s faithfulness to grow our faith with the test of corporate worship.